The Sibyls Salute: Gloria Steinem

by The Sibyls

Gloria Steinem Quote

Gloria Steinem, feminist icon, founding editor MS magazine, social activist and commentator is currently on tour in Australia. In an article titled Gloria Steinem at 82: a hopeless hopeaholic always on the move by Susan Wyndham (18 May 2016, SMH) Gloria claimed she will have to live to 100 years of age to keep up with her current commitments.

‘On her to-do list: help get Hillary Clinton elected as US president (“I think she can win and she has to win”); introduce a Vice series of documentaries on violence against women around the world; consult on an HBO TV series about Ms, the feminist magazine she co-founded in the ’70s; work on a one-woman theatre show in which actor Kathy Najimy plays Steinem and the real Steinem joins in for an audience Q&A.

Gloria Steinem Sibylesque

We, The Sibyls, salute Gloria Steinem for her lifetime involvement in social reform and her continuing commitment to improving the lives of minority groups and the disadvantaged. She has been politically active for over 50 years and an inspiration for generations of women. Now, at 82 years of age, she is a role model for older women. She is an articulate, intelligent and vital life force, who demonstrates how much can be achieved at any age by anyone willing to put up their hand and become involved.

1 hour interview on ABC Radio 774 with Jon Faine and Kaz Cooke

A feisty, 70-something GRANDMA hits the big screen. Mature age feminism. Bring it on!

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque fool quote

There are two reasons to get excited about this film. (New York Times Review) Firstly, it’s called Grandma and Ellie, the lead character, is a feisty, take-no-prisoners 70-something and a long way from the doddering little old lady stereotype.

Secondly, Ellie is played by Lily Tomlin, a comedian I’ve admired since she first hit our screens in Laugh In in the sixties. What’s not to like about a hard-hitting comic feminist who says:

“We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation.”

Lily Tomlin as Grandma Ellie

Lily Tomlin as Grandma Ellie

Grandma Ellie, according to Tomlin, has attitude. ‘If somebody is lying or fudging an issue, she just can’t take it and she is just gonna rail against it.’ That’s an attitude many of us will recognise. Significantly, Lily Tomlin turns 76 on the 1st September this year. Tomlin is smart, sassy, uncompromising and funny.

We need to see vibrant older women on screen as they make growing old look interesting.

Photo Source: Film Website


OMG! I forgot to stay young …

by Penny Cook

Sibylesque Clarissa pinkola Estes

Although we now know about the hormonal aspects of menopause … and let me tell you, that concept was explained to me as a ‘pause between men’ … have we really explored the behavioural aspects?

It might just be my age and being bashed up by life, but am I alone in my thoughts and reactions? I’m finding more and more, my response to ‘chick flick tear jerker movies’ is less tears and more jerk. I don’t want to see the male mid-life crisis being rewarded by the reconciliation with the long-suffering wife on screen, or in real life. I don’t want to see the middle-age men in Hollywood more easily getting roles – possibly as the love interest of someone 25 years his junior – when women have to fight for authentic stories, as they age. I don’t want to see women on screen, or in life, having to work to stay looking young so they are valued.


We are discriminated against on so many fronts on the screen and in real life. Then, we further disadvantage ourselves by wilfully aging. Meanwhile, we face inequality of pay at every age. That’s the real life script. We burnt the bra. There are no more undergarments left to burn.

So what will it take … for equality now?


Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …’s never too late!!…….


Photo source: Vintage Gal


Vote 1 Wisdom ….. or How not to be a victim by Hillary Clinton

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Wise woman quoteHillary Clinton is 67 years old and running for President. If she is voted into office, an increasingly unlikely scenario, she will be 70 years old and, after 2 possible terms, she will be 78 years old.

Why all the brouhaha? Opponents have dubbed Hillary ‘grandma’, which, indeed, she is, but the term is used as an insult. It is meant to demean her status.

Sibylesque Vote 1 for WisdomThere have been 44 presidents with 3 in Hillary’s demographic. Margaret Thatcher was 54 when she became Prime Minister in 1979 and held that office for 11 years. Golda Meir was 71 when elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969. Angela Merkel was 51 when elected German Chancellor. She remains in office at the age of 61.

There are now 46 million Americans over 65 and the numbers are rising. Last election they represented 23% of the voting population. Only a fool would set out to insult 23% of potential voters. Then again, fools rush in where the older and wiser fear to tread.

Hillary had the last say. She started a Twitter account #Grandmotherknowsbest.

Thus ends the lesson in how not to be a victim.

curlicuePhotosource: Winedentity


The Sibyls Salute: Merle Thornton and Ro Bogner

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Merle ThorntonQuote

Fifty years ago on 31 March 1965 Merle Thornton* and Rosalie Bogner chained themselves to the Regatta Hotel bar rail in a strategic and planned protest for women’s rights.

The protest was aimed at lifting the marriage bar whereby women were forced to resign from the public service when they married. Merle had not informed her employer, the ABC, of her marriage, but when she fell pregnant she was forced to resign.

Merle and Ro staged the protest in a hotel opposite the ABC buildings in Brisbane in time for the evening news. Their husbands handed out leaflets and both news reporters and the police turned up. Following the publicity that ‘the wives of two well know university lecturers’ had staged a protest, both Merle and Ro received death threats and abuse over the phone but also some support.


Questions asked in the Queensland parliament included: ‘Where were their children?’, ‘Should the children be put in care?’ and ‘Should their husbands be psychologically examined to see if they are fit to be academics?’

Merle and Ro went on to form The Equal Opportunities for Women Assoc, the first in Australia and possibly the world. Neither the unions nor the political parties were interested in lifting the Marriage Bar.

After much lobbying Bill Hayden, a member of this association and a federal member of parliament introduced a private members bill to lift the ban. An emergency Cabinet meeting was called, followed by an announcement that the ban would be lifted under a Commonwealth Act.

In August 1966, 18 months after Merle and Ro’s bar protest, the lifting of the marriage bar was signed into law along with the introduction of the first accouchement leave or (unpaid) Maternity leave.

We, the Sibyls, salute Merle Thornton and Ro Bogner for their strategic brilliance, gutsy determination and political nous. We also thank them for kick-starting the 2nd Wave Feminist Agenda 50 years ago to the benefit of all Australian women.

*Merle is the mother of well-known actress Sigrid Thornton. In 2014, the Regatta Hotel named a bar after Merle Thornton.

More details:

TV interview Merle Thornton and Ro Bogner, ABC, aired 10 April, 1965.

The National Library of Australia

Photo Source: DYIDESPAIR Website